LANCE Franklin's Hawthorn teammates are bracing themselves for months of questions about the star forward's future.
The 26-year-old is yet to commit to a new contract with the Hawks.
Franklin, the game's biggest star, becomes a restricted free agent at season's end.
But senior Hawk Sam Mitchell refused to buy into the speculation.
"It's for you (the media) to talk about Buddy's contract. His contract has got to do with his management and the footy club and Buddy, it's really not a lot to do with me," Mitchell told AFL.com.au.
"That might be what I trot out all year, it's got nothing to do with me."
Whatever the case – only slow progress has been made so far – the Hawks had wanted the contract done by the end of 2012, and it didn't happen.
Franklin's manager Liam Pickering has indicated his client will likely remain in the brown and gold, but as long as there's no pen on paper the speculation will continue.
The advent of free agency has seen contract speculation intensify across the AFL.
Last year Collingwood's Travis Cloke and Port Adelaide's Travis Boak couldn't escape rampant speculation about their futures – before both signed up to stay late in the year.
Matt Thompson is a reporter for AFL Media. Follow him on Twitter @MattThompsonAFL